The popularity of the smartphone messaging app in the region, Brazilian users habits and the new usages of the app as a strategic business tool are the topics addressed in this LABS special content.
Whether because of the possibility of communicating with different groups or being able to have a secure, private talk, people in Brazil can't live without WhatsApp (or Whats, Zap Zap, or Zap, for short) anymore.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that WhatsApp changed the way people talk to each other in Brazil.
Ever since its launch in 2009, the tool has intensified the use of instant messaging and made communicating easier for families, friends, and even companies.
In this special content, LABS reunites information on how Brazilians use the app and some insights on how companies can use it strategically to improve sales and customer relationship.
Brazil's continental dimension makes connectivity a key factor for social inclusion and communication between people. Broadband is not always guaranteed. Even in the biggest cities in the country, some locations don't have a good enough connection.
In spite of these difficulties, six out of ten Brazilians have internet access. Proportionally, the country is behind only the United States, India and China, and the tendency is that the number of users will grow even further.
This boom can be explained mostly due to the popularization of mobile phones, used by 95% of the internet users in the country. It is possible to travel through Brazil and reach a very remote city: some people probably will not own a computer, but they will certainly have a smartphone.
SOURCE: IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 2016.
All it takes is a smartphone that has internet access. Besides being free, the app's rise has stretched out to areas of low connectivity, reaching an expressive number of Brazilians.
To get an idea, the price of an SMS in Brazil has cost almost 55 times more than one in the United States. WhatsApp, however, requires only a mobile number and, in Brazil, it usually integrates zero-rating plans - the ones that exempt particular apps from data consumption.
According to the company's own advertisement, the country is one of its main markets and has 120 million monthly active users. If each user were a single person, the number of users would be the equivalent of Mexico's entire population.
Unlike social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, in the land of Whatsapp, secrecy reigns. And, in a way, privacy.
consider Whatsapp the safest app to exchange messages
SOURCE: Datafolha, 2017
Whether used for solving small problems or making big decisions, the app speeds up the hiring and scheduling of services. "I hired almost every service for my wedding through WhatsApp", tells Ana Carolina Bittencourt. She says that her first contact with service providers was made through the app, which made the party's planning much easier.
Ana Carolina's case points to a market opportunity: if most Brazilians are on WhatsApp, companies should also follow suit.
Hecílio Cardoso, a 43-year-old business owner, saw a boom after the app's massification. He used it to communicate with lovers of Uruguayan meat - a product he sells. The entrepreneur uses his broadcast list - a feature that allows users to send one message to several contacts at once - on a weekly basis in order to offer products to his clients.
WhatsApp has also a place of privilege in Guilherme Prado's business, owner of a clothing store in the center of Curitiba.
55% of WhatsApp users in Brazil
say that they use the app to communicate with brands and companies
Waiting for an email or a phone call stopped making sense with WhatsApp's instantaneity at hand. This agility quickly caught the attention of companies, which organically turned to the app for carrying their business. Facing this demand, the app developed Whatsapp Business.
Launched in Brazil in January of 2018, the business version of Whatsapp optimized functionalities and favoured a more direct contact with consumers.
In Whatsapp Business, the profile can be filled in with useful information aimed at clients, such as the company's description, physical address, website and email.
Functionalities like the automatic greeting or away messages, standard answers, access to statistics regarding content visualization and the possibility of creating categories of clients (men or women, teenagers or adults, for example) were already available in other platforms.
The difference is, with the business version of Whats, these functions add to the agility of an almost instant communication, since the app is used by virtually all of the Brazilians who are connected to the internet.
Such practicality leads to a near-immediate satisfaction. 87% of small and medium sized Brazilian companies believe that the tool improves communication with clients. 81% see the app as a business expansion opportunity.
This was the first step in the shift of WhatsApp's image. From a simple message-exchanging tool, it entered the index of business strategies to attract, retain and convert clients in a large scale. It wasn't long before the app fine-tuned corporate communications even more: in August of 2018, a Business version was launched for large scale companies.
One of the main novelties for the large companies version is the automatic sending of specific messages - and not only the greetings or away ones from the previous version. The idea is that the automation of messages will work as a pre-customer service, optimizing problem-solving and various other demands.
E-commerce giant Wish, present in over 40 countries, adhered to the tool as soon as the large companies version was made available. Their goal was to optimize post-sales, sending notifications regarding the status of each sale.
In the case of KLM, the Dutch airline that invested in the app as a communication tool, the robots available by WhatsApp speed up the cataloguing of messages. They are then analyzed and answered by their telemarketers. The company also sends boarding tickets, offers information regarding the flights and solves doubts of their clients in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, India, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.
For clients, besides the practicality of the communication, the new tools guarantee trust, since the Business versions of the app offer account verification for companies. By seeing that the profile is indeed owned by the company, the client will feel safer to trust the messages and abide by the orientations.
It seems that the version aimed for large companies values agility all the more. That's because Whatsapp guarantees the gratuity of the messages sent up to 24 hours after the client's first contact. After that period, companies are charged. This configuration works as an incentive so that businesses will develop answer mechanisms that are increasingly practical and instant.
This is, without doubt, the main differential between WhatsApp for large corporations. Society has changed, and with it, the profile and behaviour of clients, who get easily disappointed with the slowness and complexity. The new version of the most famous app in Brazil offers, to big brands, the possibility of strengthening ties with consumers and growing even more.
Unlike Whatsapp Business aimed at small and medium sized businesses, the large companies version is paid. Brands also need to be pre-approved by the app in order to create an account. Corporations interested should get in touch with WhatsApp's team and ask to have access to the service.
In Brazil, the new version is being implemented by Take, a company focused on messaging solutions. Besides working with Microsoft and Amazon, they are also the official suppliers of Facebook Business.
Companies should never forget this very important rule: never get in touch with clients before a previous contact initiated by them - be it a register, a purchase or a request. "Whats" is an intimate space in which users share feelings, affection and confidential information. Entering that space without permission, or worse, without anything concrete to offer, can be a fatal mistake.
40% of users would stop using the app if they started getting frequent unsolicited messages (spam) from brands and companies.SOURCE: Mensageria no Brasil, 2018
By avoiding this mistake, Whatsapp can be a world of opportunities for companies that wish to grow in the Brazilian market. The app's popularization is a true phenomenon in the country, a scenario that's been stimulating very creative initiatives.
Hellmann's, for example, has straightened bonds with its Brazilian consumers by betting on a simple but innovative campaign. Through the projects WhatsCook, chefs helped customers to prepare a special recipe with what they had available in their fridges, all through WhatsApp. Clients simply had to text a picture of the food to the brand and then, service began.
Initiatives like this show that offering services is just one of WhatsApp's possibilities. With expressive numbers in Brazil, the app is a land to be explored. For companies, the ideal is to align marketing and communication strategies to the profile and needs of their clients.